Supporting our kids passions and interests

I come from a family of engineers. My father was an engineer, my brother and sister are engineers. I have uncles and cousins who are engineers.

So you can just imagine my family’s surprise when one day, many many years ago, I announced at the dinner table in front of my family that I wanted to be a journalist. We didn’t have a journalist in the family. Heck they don’t even know anyone who writes for a living. To my family who lives off of building dams and planning telecommunications networks writing is a mere hobby. Something engineers, accountants, lawyers, and doctors do on the side to pass time. Not something you do to put food on the table and a roof above your head.

Of course many discouraged me. I must have heard all cliches people say about journalists and people who thread words together and actually consider it a job.

But there was one person who stood by me and believed I can actually make a career out of writing–my mother. She was the one who would brush people’s comments off and encourage me to continue writing.

She would tell people to leave me alone, to let me be, to let me do what I want and whatever would make me happy. Because to her that’s what matters really.

After a couple of years I finally landed a job as an editor for the company I have been eyeing for years. I started writing for many magazines and newspapers based everywhere. And I managed to earn a decent living off of it.

Today I can see my children developing into individuals starting to discover interests so different from mine.

As much as it scares me I know I will be here to support them just the way my mama supported me and stood by me.

For instance my five year old is starting to develop an intense love for snorkeling. He started last year when he was four.

Eversince he was a baby he’s always had a thing for the pool and the beach and so we’d take him often.

Last year he watched us snorkel and grabbed one of the goggles and snorkeled on his own for the first time. He had zero fear nor hesitation. He took to snorkeling like a duck to water. I heard his muffled squeals as he pointed at fish and corals under water.

He was beyond ecstatic!

This was something unfamiliar to me because I have lived in the city all my life so many miles away from the beach and to be totally honest I can’t swim to save my life.

Deep waters make me feel anxious.

So my child snorkeling in the deep is something that could give me a panic attack.

But because I wanted to support him, we took him snorkeling a few times this year until finally traveling to a far island to snorkel in the deep.

We rode a boat, a van along some steep cliffs, and another boat to get to a famous snorkeling area. The water from the boat was so deep you can barely see anything under it at first.

But as expected my little thrill seeker jumped right in and snorkeled happily.

He swam and swam until he saw corals and fish.

I think he is happiest when he’s in the water. He feels so confident, happy, and free.

I figured, this must have been how my mother saw me while I was starting out as a writer. He saw how it made me feel so happy like I’m in my element and so even while it is something so alien to her and my family she supported me and stood by me.

It is important for us as parents to support our kids’ interest, love them enough to respect their passions. It is not for us to dictate what they are to become in the future, we can only encourage and support.

Because at the end of the day this is their life and happiness. At some point they will grow up and become persons who may be so different from us, who will pursue interests so different from ours, and lead lives so different from one we had imagined they would have and we just have to respect that.

Author: Loraine Balita-Centeno

I'm a Manila based journalist who's been working in the industry for 12 years. I've written pieces for newspapers and magazines based in Manila and some abroad. I'm a work-at-home-mom of two so I spend my days writing or editing with a toddler clamped around one leg and a pre-schooler asking me questions every 10 minutes.

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